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December 16, 2012
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Good eats for the holidays

It has become a tradition for the staff at the Glenwood Springs Post Independent to stray from the usual menu of local news and features for one day in December, in order to share our favorite Christmas and holiday recipes.Today, 13 of our staff share fun recipes for readers to try. Some recipes are very traditional and a few are year-round favorites, but they all are considered by us to be wintertime comfort foods. We hope you enjoy.

This is not an old family recipe, though every old member of my family has made one. Some prefer Dickel No. 12, which is a 90-proof whisky, but I use Dickel No. 8, which is 80 proof, cheaper and smoother. The toddy is a great palliative for the common cold, as the lemon juice creates alkalinity in the body and is an anti-viral agent of long antiquity. The hot toddy also soothes the stomach, calms the fervid mind and helps promote perspiration as one sleeps, another tried and true sign of improving health.Tennessee Hot Toddy1 double shot of Dickel Tennessee Whisky1 tablespoon of local honeyJuice from 1/2 or 1 whole lemonHot waterWhile a cup or more of water is boiling (volume dependent on size of mug or cup), squeeze the lemon and pour the juice into a large mug or cup, along with the honey.When the water boils, let it set for two minutes and pour it over the honey and lemon juice, but leave room in the cup for the double shot. Immediately before drinking, add the whisky and stir well. Drink to your own health.

These are great to dip into a red Italian tomato sauce or a cucumber dressing.Veggie Balls2 cups lentils1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil1 large onion, chopped2 carrots, chopped2 celery stalks, chopped1 garlic clove, minced1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme2 teaspoons salt3 tablespoons tomato paste8 ounces button mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced3 large eggs1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese1/2 cup bread crumbs1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley1/4 cup finely chopped walnutsCombine the lentils and 2 quarts water in a medium stockpot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the lentils are soft (but not falling apart), about 25 minutes. Drain the lentils and allow to cool. In a large frying pan, saut the onions, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme and salt in 1/4 cup of olive oil until vegetables are tender and beginning to brown. Add tomato paste and cook for 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook 15 more minutes, until liquid is absorbed. Transfer to a large bowl and cool. Add lentils, eggs, Parmesan, bread crumbs, parsley and walnuts and mix by hand. Chill 25 minutes.Preheat oven to 400 degrees.Grease a 9x13 baking dish with remaining olive oil. Roll mixture into golf ball-size "meatballs," pack firmly, and place in baking dish. Roast 30 minutes, cool 5 minutes before serving.

I love this recipe because the sweetness of the shrimp and the savory flavor of the tenderloin complement each other. The wine sauce with mushrooms gives this dish an extra special touch. My mom has made this recipe for Christmas for the past 30 years. Makes 5 to 8 servings, depending on side dishes.Stuffed Tenderloin1 tenderloin (cut off tail) 2.5 to 3 pounds1 pound shrimp, cooked 2-3 minutes, peeled and deveined1 tablespoon butter1 teaspoon lemon juice1 clove garlic, mincedSalt and pepper2-3 partially cooked strips of baconFor the sauce:1/2 cup sauted onions 1 clove garlic 1 cup browned mushrooms 1/2 cup meat stock or pan drippings 2 to 4 tablespoons sherry1 tablespoon cornstarch2 tablespoons cold waterHeat oven to 500 degrees. Cut tenderloin lengthwise to 1 inch of base and pound flat. Place in a shallow pan and brush with butter, garlic, salt and pepper. Arrange shrimp down center of meat. Season shrimp with salt, pepper, butter and lemon juice.Make a roll out of the tenderloin with shrimp in the center. Once the tenderloin is pulled together tightly, place bacon on top of seam and tie with butcher's string every 1 1/2 inches. Put strips of foil over bacon so it doesn't get too brown.Turn temperature down to 400 degrees after you put meat in oven. Bake 20 to 40 minutes, using a meat thermometer. For rare, go to 120 degrees; for medium go to 140 degrees.For the sauce, mix cornstarch in cold water. Bring all other ingredients to a simmer in a saucepan, gradually stir in cornstarch mixture and simmer until thickened, stirring constantly.

I must admit that I love jellied cranberry sauce from a can. But this Thanksgiving we enjoyed a feast with our newest in-laws, and my daughter's mother-in-law was gracious enough to share her cranberry recipe with me. This is delicious!Sister Mum's Orange Cranberry Sauce1 package (12 ounce) fresh cranberries3/4 cup packed light brown sugar1 can (11 ounce) mandarin orange segments, drained, juice reserved1/2 teaspoon grated orange zestParsley sprig (optional)In pot, bring cranberries, brown sugar, reserved mandarin juice and 1/4 cup water to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until cranberries pop, 20-25 mins. Cool, cover and chill for 2 hours.Reserve 10 orange segments, chop remaining. Just before serving, stir in zest and chopped segments. Transfer to dish, arrange reserved orange segments on top of sauce, and if desired, garnish with parsley.

This recipe is one I've only recently been using, but I have fallen in love with it. It's warm, flavorful and won't leave you feeling too full before going on a hike or making tracks through the freshly fallen snow. It may not be a holiday dish, but eating anything with bacon and goat cheese in it is a reason to celebrate.Butternut Squash with Goat Cheese and Bacon1/2 medium onion, finely chopped 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter 2 pieces of low-sodium bacon or turkey bacon1 1/2 cups diced roasted butternut squash Liberal dashes of salt and pepper 1 teaspoon fresh sage leaves 1 1/2 ounces soft goat cheese In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crispy. In another medium pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion and cook until soft, about 2 minutes. Add salt, pepper and diced sage. Add in cooked squash and heat about 2 minutes longer, stirring well so the squash absorbs the seasoning and butter. Remove from heat. Season with additional salt or pepper to taste. Pour vegetable mixture into serving bowl. Sprinkle with 1 slice of crumbled bacon, the goat cheese and garnish with additional sage.

When my maternal grandmother, Betty McAnany, was sick in the hospital with terminal cancer, my mom found this recipe for lasagna in a magazine. My grandma passed away on Aug. 2,1978, and I'll always remember her. Same with my mom. Every time she makes a pan of lasagna using this recipe, she thinks of her mother. As do I.We always make this beloved dish on special occasions, especially birthdays and holidays such as Christmas Eve. Share this recipe with friends and family and know how much it means to me.Mom's Lasagna2 tablespoons olive oil1 clove garlic, chopped 1 onion, chopped1 1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage3 cups marinara saucel pound lasagna noodles1 pound ricotta cheese1 pound cottage cheese1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, grated1 pound mozzarella, grated or slicedPreheat oven to 350 degrees. In saucepan, heat oil and saut garlic and onion for 5 minutes. Remove sausage from casing or buy it ground, and add to pan. Cook over medium heat until sausage is brown and crumbly. Drain excess fat, then stir in sauce. Cook lasagna noodles according to directions. Drain and rinse with cold water, or use the no-cook variety. Separate noodles. Spoon a thin layer of sauce into a 9x13 pan. Add a layer of noodles, sauce, ricotta, cottage cheese, mozzarella. Continue layering until pan is filled, ending with sauce. Sprinkle top with Parmesan cheese. Bake 30 to 35 minutes. Let the dish set for a few minutes before serving.

For the longest time, I could never stand to eat Brussels sprouts. They were bitter and slimy, and usually a sickly-looking green. But I finally came across instructions for the proper cooking of these little treats, and they are now among my vegetable favorites.At this point, the hardest part is convincing others to try them. Many people still harbor those painful memories of bad Brussels sprouts, and it's a tough reputation to overcome. With this recipe, the scent of nuttiness carries out ahead of the dish and may help convince the reluctant eater that Brussels sprouts are, indeed, worth trying.For those who fall in love with these nutty mouthfuls, there are added benefits always associated with cruciferous vegetables: they're high in fiber and loaded with antioxidant vitamins A, C, E and K and folate.Seared Brussels SproutsPrep time: 10 min.; Cooking time: 20 min.Serves 4-6 as a side dish1 pound Brussels sprouts2 tablespoons unsalted butter or mild olive oilRinse the Brussels sprouts in warm water. With a sharp knife, trim off the dried cut end of the sprout. Cut the sprout in half lengthwise, and if it is larger than 1" across, cut each half into quarters lengthwise. Warm a cast iron skillet to medium heat. Place butter in the pan and allow it to just melt, not turn brown, or pour in olive oil and heat till it begins to shimmer.Pour in the halved or quartered sprouts and stir. Set a timer for 20 minutes. Return to the pan and stir every 3 to 4 minutes. After 20 minutes, the sprouts will be tender, seared on the cut edges and will be giving off a delightful, nutty aroma. Remove pan from heat. Sprouts are at their best served immediately, but cooled leftovers are delicious chilled or reheated.Optional additions:Chopped walnutsSoy-roasted pumpkin seedsBite-sized chunks of yam or sweet potato cooked separately

My husband, Dane, and I both love macaroni and cheese and we have it every Thanksgiving and Christmas, but we can never agree on how to make it. I am a big fan of the baked versions and he likes the cheese sauce versions. This recipe has become our favorite because it is delicious and a perfect combination of both versions. Thanks to this recipe, the great mac n' cheese debate has been solved at our house.For some extra awesomeness add bacon, yum!Mac and Cheese1 pound elbow macaroni 2 (10 3/4 ounce) cans cheddar cheese soup 2 (12 ounce) cans evaporated milk 5/8 cup butter (1 1/4 sticks) 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon pepper 6 cups shredded cheddar cheese (medium or sharp, or a combination) Preheat oven to 350. Cook pasta according to pasta directions just until done. You don't want it mushy, because it will absorb some of the cheesy liquid in the oven. Combine soup, evaporated milk, butter, salt and pepper in a large microwaveable bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, leaving a small vent, and cook for 6-7 minutes in the microwave oven until the butter is melted and the mixture is warm-to-hot throughout. (If making a half batch, 4 minutes in the microwave should do it). In a large baking dish (minimum 9x13, smaller if halving the recipe), spread 1/3 of the cooked noodles. Top with 1/3 of the sauce. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the cheddar. Repeat layers twice, ending with the cheese. Bake for 40-45 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Aebleskiver is a Danish dessert, like doughnut holes, but sweeter and much better. They are traditionally served with glogg during the Advent season. A special cast iron pan that resembles an egg poacher is necessary for this recipe. Serve these tasty bites hot with syrup, jam or powdered sugar.Grandma Jones' Aebleskiver 2 egg whites2 cups all-purpose flour2 teaspoons baking powder1 tablespoon white sugar1/2 teaspoon baking soda1/2 teaspoon salt2 egg yolks4 tablespoons butter, melted2 cups buttermilk1 cup vegetable oil for fryingIn a glass or metal bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until they can hold a stiff peak. Set aside.Mix together the flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, sugar, egg yolks, melted butter and buttermilk at one time and beat until smooth. Gently fold in the egg whites last.Put about 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in the bottom of each aebleskiver pan cup and heat until hot. Pour in about 2 tablespoons of batter into each cup. As soon as they get bubbly around the edge, turn them quickly. Danish cooks use a long knitting needle, but a fork will work. Continue cooking, turning the ball to keep it from burning.Enjoy!

By the time we arrived at my grandmother's house each year for Christmas, most all the table space and buffets would be filled with an assortments of baked treats. Although these cookies are very simple, they were always my favorite. These are the cookies my kids and I make each year as a treat for Santa.Nanny's Christmas CookiesFor the cookies:1 cup butter2 cups brown sugar2 eggs1/4 teaspoon salt1 teaspoon baking soda1 teaspoon cream of tartar1 teaspoon vanilla2 1/2 cups flourFor the frosting:2 cups powdered sugar1/2 cup milk1 tablespoon vanillaFood coloringSprinkles (optional)Mix together the butter, sugar, eggs, salt, baking soda, cream of tartar and vanilla. Then mix in the flour. Chill dough for 1 hour.Roll out to a thickness of about 1/4 inch. Cut into fun shapes using cookie cutters.Bake at 350 degrees about 10 minutes or until light brown. Transfer baked cookies to a wire cooling rack. To make the frosting, set out small bowls, one for each color you want. Divide powdered sugar among them. Put a couple of drops of food coloring in each bowl, by color, and 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla in each. Then add milk, a tablespoon at a time, until each bowl of frosting reaches the desired consistency. Decorate the cookies with frosting and sprinkles.

You will not know the difference between this vegan cake and a conventional cake. It's a long-time favorite from MooseWood Lodge in Ithaca, N.Y., my home town. Delicious Vegan Chocolate CakeFor the cake:1 1⁄2 cups unbleached white flour1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder1 teaspoon baking soda1/2 teaspoon salt1 cup sugar1/2 cup vegetable oil1 cup cold water or coffee2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract2 tablespoons cider vinegarFor the chocolate glaze:1/2 pound semi-sweet chocolate3/4 cup hot water1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extractPreheat the oven to 375 degrees.Grease a 9-inch round or 8-inch square cake pan. Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt and sugar directly into the cake pan.In a two-cup measuring cup, measure and mix together the oil, cold water or coffee, and vanilla.Pour the liquid ingredients into the baking pan and mix with a fork or small whisk. When the batter is smooth, add the vinegar and stir quickly. There will be pale swirls in the batter as the baking soda and vinegar react. Stir just until the vinegar is evenly distributed throughout the batter.Bake for 25 to 30 minutes and set aside to cool.To make the optional glaze, melt the chocolate in a double boiler, microwave oven, or reset the oven to 300 degrees and melt the chocolate in the oven for about 15 minutes in a small ovenproof bowl or heavy skillet.Stir the hot water and vanilla into the melted chocolate until smooth.Spoon the glaze over the cooled cake. Refrigerate the glazed cake for at least 30 minutes before serving.

I was first introduced to brownies made with a little Irish Cream liqueur during a camping trip with friends several years ago. They were an instant hit as we gathered around the campfire after dinner, and seem perfect for the holidays.When it comes to Irish Cream, John Colson, who happens to be a noted connoisseur of fine scotch, recommends Saint Brendan's because it uses real Irish whiskey.There are several Irish Cream brownie recipes floating around on the Internet. Some bakers prefer to use their own scratch brownie recipe. Others simply add the liqueur to their favorite box mix. The key is to add just the right amount, usually 1/4 cup to a full cup. Just make sure to modify any other liquid ingredients so the brownies don't come out too gooey.Here's a fun "Bailey's Brownies" recipe I found at Bon Apptit, from Cakes & Ale in Decatur, Ga. Bon Apptit says, "Most brownie lovers favor one of two styles: cake or fudge. These brownies will please everyone; they are cakelike around the edges, while the center is very moist and fudgy."Friends Around the Campfire Brownies1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour5 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder1/2 teaspoon kosher salt14 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped (do not exceed 70 percent cacao)1 1/4 cups (2-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces1/4 cup hot strong coffee1/4 cup Irish Cream (Baileys, Brendan's, your pick)2 cups sugar2/3 cup (packed) dark brown sugar7 large eggs1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract2 tablespoons coarsely chopped high-quality white chocolatePreheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9x13 glass baking dish with nonstick spray. Whisk flour, cocoa powder and salt in a bowl. Place semisweet chocolate, butter, coffee and liqueur in a large heatproof bowl. Set bowl over a large saucepan of simmering water. Heat mixture, stirring often, until chocolate is melted and mixture is warmed through. Remove bowl from over saucepan. Whisk in both sugars, add eggs and vanilla. Whisk gently until just blended. Using a spatula, fold in dry ingredients just to blend. Scrape batter into pan; smooth top.Place white chocolate in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 15-second intervals until melted and smooth. Transfer to a resealable plastic bag, pressing chocolate into corner of the bag; cut a very small piece off tip of corner. Pipe thin lines of white chocolate crosswise over brownie batter, spacing 1 inch apart. Insert a toothpick or skewer about 1/4-inch deep into edge of batter on one side perpendicular to piped chocolate; drag horizontally across length of pan to make a design; repeat, spacing about 1 1/2 inches apart along full width of pan.Bake brownies, rotating pan every 10 minutes, until a tester inserted into the center comes out with some wet crumbs attached, 35-45 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack. Let cool completely in pan.

This is a ridiculously easy dessert to make that comes from a friend who has owned his own restaurant back in Iowa for 35 years. His Key Lime Pie is well-known in that neck of the woods, and people would drive for miles for a slice. This recipe was a closely guarded secret, and only found its way to me via one of his former waitresses who swiped it. She also happens to be my sister-in-law. I think it's such a secret mainly because of how simple it is to make, and the chef was too embarrassed to tell anyone just how easy it was. Key Lime Pie8 ounces Cool Whip1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk1/4 cup Key lime juice1/4 cup fresh lime juice1 graham cracker pie crust 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (optional) Whip all ingredients on high for 30 seconds, pour into pie shell and refrigerate until set, at least 30 minutes.Top with whipping cream sweetened with sugar and vanilla and beaten to soft peaks and garnish with Key lime slices.


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The Post Independent Updated Dec 16, 2012 12:56AM Published Dec 16, 2012 12:41AM Copyright 2012 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.